Soldering iron temp for track work?

COHiker06 May 8, 2022

  1. COHiker06

    COHiker06 TrainBoard Member

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    Before I start melting plastic until I figure it out, does anyone have a pretty good temp setting for soldering track? Its flex track and Atlas code 80 #8 turnouts. 550* works pretty good for XLR audio female connectors but different materials and all.....
     
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  2. Allen H

    Allen H TrainBoard Supporter

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    You could start with some scrap track and apply your soldering iron and solder to the rails.
    Compare how long it takes to melt the solder vs the ties at different temps.
     
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  3. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    I use a medium temp on my soldering station. Pretinng the wire. Use soldering flux on the rail. Get in and out f a s t !!(y)
     
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  4. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

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    You can also slide the closest ties back and use an alligator clip or reverse tweezers as heat sinks between the ties and point of soldering. After cooling slide the ties back into place. There will still be a need for a couple of ties directly under the joiner.
     
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  5. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Ideal iron temperature depends on the soldering iron/station, tip style, wattage, response time, size and heat-sinking ability of the joined materials/surfaces, solder used, etc.

    High-end, high available wattage stations, irons and tips will require less preset temperature than others.

    Experience and/or experimentation is the best way to find out what works best for your equipment and project.
     
  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Why do you want to solder your track?
     
  7. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    Hot!

    Doug
     
  8. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    Maybe to add power leads from the main power line.
     
  9. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Especially with flex or hand-laid track, some folks prefer to solder (at least some of) the rail joints, especially ones in curves, to avoid abrupt changes in curvature at the rail joints.

    I've seen at least one YouTube video where the author soldered Unitrack rail joints on a small layout. But then again, you can find just about anything on YouTube...
     
  10. nickelplate759

    nickelplate759 TrainBoard Member

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    I don't have an answer on temperature, but too cool is worse than too hot. I struggled with this for a long time, and finally dedicated a couple of hours and a piece of flex track to practicing. I destroyed the flex track, of course, but by the end of the practice session (and flex track) I had learned a procedure that worked with my equipment.

    So - practice!
     
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  11. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I see, that make sense on curved flex track joints. Regarding soldered Unitrack, I like your summary that "you can find just about anything on YouTube". :LOL: There's probably also a guy out there who fills the unused holes in his pegboard. :)
     
  12. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Yep, in the end you need to get the joint hot enough to melt solder and it has to be hot enough for the solder to flow in the solder joint. The colder the iron is the longer it is going to take for that to happen and the hotter things near by are going to get (the ties).

    Usually have my iron as hot as it goes and can get on and off the joint quickly with out melting the ties.

    http://1fatgmc.com/RailRoad/Servo Control/page-7-b.html

    Sumner
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2022
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  13. Rip Track

    Rip Track TrainBoard Member

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    Doh! Never mind.
     
  14. COHiker06

    COHiker06 TrainBoard Member

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    So true! Soldering is cathartic for me but the learning curve is lengthy.
     
  15. COHiker06

    COHiker06 TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you all! Was worried about the rail acting as one giant heatsink, damaging the ties, dropping the surface temps at the joint, and cold jointing the works
     
  16. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Basically it will so the reason in my mind not to use a lower heat where the heat travels further before the solder flows.

    Sumner
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2022
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  17. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    The secret to soldering is to make absolutely sure the surfaces are totally clean and free of oxidation. Use flux also. Then 'tin' both surfaces getting a good coating of solder on them then join them together and touch with a hot iron. Some practice will help a lot but the main thing with solder joints is cleaning the joining surfaces. Solder does not like dirt.
     
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  18. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I was messing around last night custom cutting some Kato Unitrack, piecing together some very short sections in an effort to economize. As a result, I ended up with sections with loose rails that would not have been reliably held with rail joiners.

    Hot worked great for me, combined with @mtntrainman 's advice to "Get in and out f a s t !!". I used only a tiny bit of solder on the outside of the joiners. It sucked into the joints and worked really well with no melting whatsoever. (y)
     
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